AN­NIKA SMETHURST

Sunday Herald Sun - - Opinion -

JUDG­ING a new leader on their first 100 days in of­fice was first used in France, where the “cent jours” de­scribed the pe­riod be­tween Napoleon’s re­turn to Paris from ex­ile and his fi­nal de­feat at Water­loo.

The 100-day yard­stick then be­came a pop­u­lar mea­sure for mod­ern lead­ers af­ter 1933 when US pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt set him­self a time­line to curb the eco­nomic suf­fer­ing dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion. In mod­ern-day pol­i­tics it is used as a barom­e­ter to as­sess a new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s abil­ity to im­ple­ment new poli­cies while avoid­ing in­sta­bil­ity.

Us­ing that mea­sure, the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment has failed.

The first 100 days of Scott Mor­ri­son’s prime min­is­ter­ship ended as they be­gan — with chaos and dis­unity. The PM reaches this mile­stone to­day, void of a hon­ey­moon those be­fore him en­joyed. In­stead, two fewer MPs are on the gov­ern­ment’s benches and the Lib­eral Party seems hell bent on blow­ing it­self up.

To Mor­ri­son’s credit he is per­sist­ing with the zeal of a school­child at re­cess. His en­thu­si­asm and love for the job is ev­i­dent, but it is un­likely to be enough to pull the gov­ern­ment out of its poll dol­drums. His burst of pol­icy shifts, like dump­ing plans to raise the pen­sion age and a $4.6 bil­lion deal with non-gov­ern­ment schools, was over­shad­owed by in­ter­nal is­sues.

Last week he re­vealed the Trea­surer would de­liver a sur­plus Bud­get — the first since 2007-08 — on April 2. The gov­ern­ment’s me­dia team hoped the story would lead the nightly news, but it was top­pled by the res­ig­na­tion of Chisholm MP Ju­lia Banks. La­bor should pack up and go home.

In Oc­to­ber, we were given a rare glimpse of what could have been when Mor­ri­son de­liv­ered a na­tional apol­ogy to vic­tims and sur­vivors of in­sti­tu­tional child sex­ual abuse. It was an in­sight into his char­ac­ter which was rarely on show in the port­fo­lios of Trea­sury and Im­mi­gra­tion where he built his ca­reer.

But it was noth­ing com­pared with the hero’s wel­come for Ju­lia Gil­lard. Another day lost.

Na­tion­ally, the Lib­eral Party is strug­gling to ap­peal to younger vot­ers and women. Five months un­til a fed­eral elec­tion there’s al­most noth­ing Mor­ri­son can do to fix struc­tural prob­lems within the party. He will have to do his best with the hand he was dealt.

If the first 100 days pro­vided a sneak peek of the next 100 days, it’s a sce­nario the gov­ern­ment would not want to re­peat. AN­NIKA SMETHURST IS NA­TIONAL POL­I­TICS EDI­TOR an­[email protected] @an­nikas­methurst

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